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Successfully Independent

Common questions I get from inquiring young adults and families when applying for transition supports are: “how successful are the adults in your program?” or “what happens if my adult is not successful in your program?” These are valid questions as it is reasonable for applicants to want to know that they are making a financial investment and time commitment that will yield a favorable outcome. We all want our young adults to be “successfully independent” as they launch into adulthood. CA is serious about helping the adults we serve to achieve their goals while doing so.


How Do We Measure Successful Independence?

CA Human Services (formerly Commonwealth Autism) has developed a program for adults with autism that shows clear progress and outcomes. This is shown through individual support and transition plans, goal setting, data collection, and regular assessment. Our data-driven goal-related outcomes show overall client progress, which allows me to confidently answer, “yes, our adults are successful!” We have clients pass their driver’s license tests, move out of their family homes, move out of the CA residence, move into apartments with roommates, graduate with degrees, get jobs, and so much more!

In full transparency, when you zoom in on client data, most data reflects trends of growth and some data reflects periods of regression and set-backs. Some would attest that this means that our clients are “not successful.” I would have to strongly disagree. Progress is not linear. All of our adults are individuals with varying circumstances and needs. This also means the progress toward being successfully independent looks different for different people. Let me introduce you to Kathy and Johnny:


Meet Kathy

Kathy is a 30 year-old young adult who moved out of her family home and into the CA residence. Kathy came to the CA residence with a lot of great independent living skills. While living at the residence, Kathy was hired for a part-time job during the day. She decided her work schedule did not challenge her enough so enrolled in a college course a couple nights a week. Several months after living at the residence, Kathy took on another part-time job in the evenings. Kathy grew in independent living skills with support from counselors and started to discuss her transition to her own apartment with CA and her family. With maintained skills in time-management and money-management, Kathy was able to show that she was ready to pursue independent living. Kathy found a single bedroom apartment and has plans to move out of the CA house in a few months!



Now, Meet Johnny

Johnny is a 24-year-old young adult who moved out of his family home into the CA residence after receiving readiness coaching support with a focus on cleanliness, cooking, communication, and transportation. While living at the CA residence, he graduated from college and eventually was ready to move into an apartment on his own. After securing a part-time job, Johnny found a roommate and applied for an apartment they decided on. He and his roommate moved into the apartment and were living there for a few months when Johnny decided his job wasn’t working out. He stopped working and eventually he decided he wanted to go back to school to continue his education to get a better job.

Due to this financial change, Johnny temporarily moved back home with his family while he pursued his new degree. While living back at home, Johnny had new responsibilities to contribute to rent, cook weekly meals and to keep his person and community spaces clean. Johnny has plans to move back into his own apartment this coming year with support from his CA counselor.


So What Does It Mean to be Successfully Independent?

After reading each case, you may be thinking, “poor Johnny! After all that hard work” or “Kathy seems much more successful than Johnny” or “I fear my adult will end up like Johnny.” When we take the time to zoom out and look at overall adult progress, both Johnny and Kathy have shown tremendous growth. Both Kathy and Johnny have worked hard to acquire new skills and have been incredibly brave in taking transitional leaps. That sounds like success to me! Neurotypical and neurodivergent adults alike experience life setbacks and life changes. It is important that we “see the forest for the trees.”

What does successfully independent look like for you or the adult with autism in your life? Contact CA to discuss or learn more here.

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CA works with autistic people and their families to help them thrive. Every day, we’re building a future where the most vulnerable Virginians can actively participate in our community and realize their full potential.

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